Conscious Parenting became a familiar term to me a couple of years ago while I watching one of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday episodes. A clinical Psychologist named Dr. Shefali Tsabary was her guest the day I was watching it.
Since that day, Dr. Shefali has been a guest several times on Oprah’s program and I have had many opportunities to see her interviews. Even after only seeing her once I was hooked and wanted to learn more as her truth really resonated with me. I decided to purchase her book, The Conscious Parent, and I even attended an online course that became available to me that was based around the teachings in her book.
Fast forward a couple of years and I feel I have evolved into a fairly well-rounded parent, which I give much of the credit to the methods of conscious parenting, as described by Dr. Shefali Tsabary.
I do not believe it was an accident that I stumbled upon her interview that day a few years ago. It was a time in my life where my daughter was just getting to more difficult age – displaying tempers that were violent at times and I found myself feeling out of control, not knowing how to deal with all of this “difficult” parenting that was suddenly upon me.
It was shocking, really, as I always believed with how much love I gave, that my child would just be happy. Afterall, I allowed her to explore in the mud when she wanted to (read my article on the benefits of kids playing outside), I let her pick her favorite treats, I spent time playing constantly with her, she was allowed to sleep in our bed, etc. My motto was just to say “yes” to most things so that she could explore and learn and this meant my “no’s” were firm with no negotiation.
So why wasn’t my child happy?
Being a new parent, I was perplexed. The tempers were like fits of rage (which is not uncommon at all, but it FEELS like it is at the time they are happening, believe me!) My sweet little girl acted like I was her evil twin and lashed out at me whenever she was in a rage. There was nothing I could say or do to get her to change, to stop, to stop hitting me, or to stop hurting herself – it all just needed to pass in her own time.
So my husband and I would just wait for it to end.
We didn’t always wait quietly, mind you, we often found ourselves wrapped right up in the middle of all of it. We would try everything from negotiating to bribing, from yelling to threatening to take things away. Soon enough I realized we were doing something wrong as nothing was working and we were going through the same drama day in and day out.
After paying close attention to the details in my Conscious Parenting book, I found some enlightenment. It was a simple concept, really, and I was eager to put my new parenting methods to work. The problem though, was that my husband took a while to get on board. Afterall, he wasn’t the one that read the book. His motto was always the same “this is normal, she is a normal kid, every kid acts this way, we just need to get more tough”.
I convinced him to try my newly discovered ways and he agreed. It wasn’t without a bumpy road of trial and error, but eventually we figured it out and generally got on the same page.
I went on to explain to him that conscious parenting was about turning the spotlight on us as individuals and looking inward rather than always blaming our child for their behavior. I went on to explain that sometimes our reactions to our child’s behavior are coming from us due to our own conditioning rather than being present and aware of the needs of our child.
The ideas in Dr. Shefali’s book were simple but profound. She goes on the explain that our children are reflections of ourselves, that often we tend to put our own ideas and opinions upon them because of our own childhood experiences.
Dr. Shefali believes that many behaviors that cause us to have reactions to our children lie dormant in our subconscious. These behaviors arise when our emotions are triggered and often have nothing to do with our children and their needs. She goes on to explain the importance of taking pause and being fully present rather than being reactive.
The general teaching is that we need to understand that our children come with their own idea’s, their own personalities, and it is important to recognize this and connect with them by accepting all that they are without adding our own agendas.
Basically, it can be summed up as “loving them unconditionally”, without judgement, and without pushing our own fears and ideas upon them. Accepting them now and not living in the future. Love them NOW, laugh with them TODAY, pay attention to them when they are speaking, make time for them and focus on them during this time.
Put your cell phones away, get down on the floor and make the time you have given your child really about them. Show them that they are important by giving the gift of YOU, loving them for all that they are, not imprinting them with your own ideas of what you want them to be or become.
The book also describes how our role as parents is to guide our children, to encourage them to listen to their inner voice rather than looking outwards for gratification. To give them confidence by accepting what they like, what they enjoy. Approve of them for who they are, what they want to accomplish, enjoy their individuality without trying to shape them into what our ideas for them are.
Here is what Dr. Shefali has to say in an excerpt from The Conscious Parent:
“When you parent, it’s crucial you realize you aren’t raising a “mini me,” but a spirit throbbing with its own signature. For this reason, it’s important to separate who you are from who each of your children is. Children aren’t ours to possess or own in any way. When we know this in the depths of our soul, we tailor our raising of them to their needs, rather than molding them to fit our needs.”
The Stay Listening Technique for Tempers
So, taking all of this in to account, I became very open to the idea of conscious parenting. Through this, I joined facebook groups and read articles that were in line with the ideals of conscious parenting.
I learned about a method called “stay listening”. This was in line with Dr. Shefali’s ideas. Stay Listening is basically waiting it out, with love, while your child is having a meltdown or temper. You can find similar methods like this one lined out in Dr. Shefali’s book, Out of Control: Why Disciplining Your Child Doesn’t Work and What Will.
Stay listening shows your child that you are there for them, accepting what they are feeling and not reprimanding them for it. By staying by their side while the temper is going on, you are actively displaying unconditional love and acceptance for them and their needs. You are showing them that it is OK that they have these feelings and emotions and nothing that they do will scare you away. Essentially, you are creating trust.
Sometimes it is not easy to stay listen. There were times when I was getting hit, scratched and screamed at while my daughter had her temper. Rather than doing what I used to do, which was demand she stop, threaten to take things away, threaten to leave her alone until she calmed down, etc. I stayed by her side. Only speaking when she tried to hit me or scratch me. I would them very calmly but firmly ask her to stop and let her know she was hurting me. I would just repeat myself over and over again by staying consistently calm until it all stopped. Every so often I would ask her if I could hug her and let her know I love her.
After 15-30 minutes she would soften up and let me hug her, she would calm right down and it would be over. Just like that. I would then try to discuss it with her and let her know that I am aware of how that must have hurt her to feel such pain. She would open right up, cry in my arms and tell me everything she was feeling.
And the best part for me was how I felt too. I no longer have the gross feeling of regret for what I had said, or what I had threatened. I felt in control of the situation rather than out of control. I felt like I gave her true love and acceptance. And it just felt right.
Since I began conscious parenting as I know it, my relationship with my daughter is amazing. It has blossomed into a more trusting and loving relationship. I can even tell that she feels more loved and more understood.
How to Incorporate Conscious Parenting
Buy the book, The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. You will be astounded by what you will learn. The techniques of conscious parenting are warm, encouraging, and thoughtful and you will find they align with your true nature.
You will find your own strengths in parenting this way and you will find what works for you and your child. I have absolutely no doubt about this.
I really encourage this book as it follows a peaceful, and refreshing way of parenting. It helps to build harmonious and beautiful relationships between you and your children in a way you probably always imagined.
Bottom line: conscious parenting helps you regain your power by putting you in control of your own emotions again.
Dr. Shefali has a TED talk that really captures her ideas. I will leave you with the gift of discovering her for the first time by watching this video below, as I am certain you will be as captured by her loving ways as I continue to be.
Have you heard of conscious parenting? What sort of parenting solutions have you discovered that have worked for you? Please share in the comments below.